Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh and Police Commissioner Darryl De Sousa took the stage during the reunion tour for hip-hop act Eric B. & Rakim at Baltimore Soundstage on Wednesday night, and videos of the appearance posted to social media suggest they didn't exactly get a warm reception.
Videos posted to Instagram show De Sousa making a brief speech to say sorry about how police have treated black communities since the nation’s founding.
“I want to take about 20 seconds to apologize for all the things the police have done dating back 200 years,” the commissioner said. “Two hundred years ago all the way to civil rights. All the way to the ’80s where crack was prevalent in the cities and it affected disproportionately African-American men. All the way to the ’90s. All the way to the 2000s when we had zero tolerance.”
“I want to take the time to apologize for what policing did and I promise you we’re going to make a change in the future.”
Some people applauded. But as De Sousa spoke, a person can be heard on one of the videos yelling profanities. In another video someone repeatedly shouts “get the police off the stage.”
And by Thursday afternoon, the union that represents De Sousa’s rank and file officers was also pushing back on his comments.
Warning: Video contains profanity
Gene Ryan, the president of Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #3, issued a statement saying he didn’t think the blanket apology was appropriate.
“Law enforcement was created to protect and serve the citizenry despite race and that is what we strive to do, daily,” the union president wrote. “Are we perfect? No, of course not, but as a profession we work very hard to care for all of our citizens.”
In an interview, Ryan said that while he disagreed with De Sousa’s comments, he remained willing to give him a chance.
“I think he’ll do a great job because he’s homegrown,” he said. “He knows Baltimore.”
Another video posted to Instagram shows Pugh being handed a microphone but it cuts off and then shows her handing it back to the host.
James Bentley, a spokesman for Pugh, said the mayor “stopped by at the invitation of some Muslim community leaders” and gave a greeting.
A spokesman for De Sousa could not immediately be reached for comment.